10 Ways to Minimize Your Risk When Staying in a Hotel During COVID-19

by: Martin Myung, Director of Housekeeping

March 4, 2021

We’re all determined to make this year better than the last, but we’re not out of the woods yet with this pandemic. Although cases are starting to go down a bit and in some areas level off, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) still recommends staying home for your own safety and those around you. However, we understand this is not always possible. Should your circumstances require you to travel, here are ten ways to stay safe while on the go as recommended by our resident expert about all things safety and cleanliness our Director of Housekeeping, Martin Myung.

A shot of a palm tree and a plane passing overhead .

1. Know before you go.

Understand the number of daily cases and the transmission rate for COVID in the area you are traveling to. This will ultimately determine the steps you take to minimize your risk while staying in a hotel.


2. Know what the hotel is doing.

Hotel websites typically publish what they are doing to keep their guests and employees safe during this pandemic. Larger hotel brands have likely partnered with a third-party organization to authenticate and accredit their efforts to reduce the risk of transmission.

Research what is being done specifically by the hotel you wish to book. Find out if contactless check in is available. Are masks provided and required for all guests and employees? Are EPA-registered disinfectants being used in common areas and how frequently? Are alcohol-based hand sanitizers available all throughout the hotel? Are signs regarding physical distancing and COVID-19 related policies posted in visible areas? Are guests and employees required to do a temperature screening?

If you can’t find the answers you’re looking for online, pick up the phone and ask directly. All hotels should have the answers you need to help you feel safe about your upcoming stay. If your questions can’t be answered quickly or confidently, feel free to look elsewhere.


3. Pack the “new essentials.”

When preparing your travel bag, don’t forget to include “the new essentials.” Masks, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes (sanitizing hand wipes are a good alternative, too), and disposable gloves are the new essentials for safe travel during a pandemic.

Double and triple check that you’ve packed all your other essentials. If you forget something like your toothbrush or a razor, you’ll have to request it from the hotel staff, which will need to be personally delivered to your room. Remember that being around others increases the risk of transmission.


4. Ask for a room that has not been recently occupied.

At the time of your reservation and when you’re checking in with the front desk, see if you can get a room that has not been occupied for a few days. While housekeeping staff disinfects and sanitizes each room after the previous guest, allowing a few days in between minimizes the risk of transmission even more. This option won’t always be available and will depend largely on the hotel’s occupancy, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.


5. Opt for private transportation.

This may not be for everyone but should you require transportation services during your travel, speak to the hotel concierge about private transportation options. If this is something the hotel offers, it will either be through the hotel or a recommended third-party company. The hotel concierge will coordinate all the arrangements and communications. Just be sure to get a confirmation letter for the transportation prior to traveling.

A lady packs a suitcase with various items such as face masks and hand sanitizer.
People standing 6 feet apart.
A cleaning spray bottle in use.
A face mask laid on top of luggage bag.

6. Disinfect frequently touched areas.

Once you’ve arrived and before you fully settle into your room, take a moment to disinfect the high touch points in the room. These items would include TV remote controls, door handles, telephones, tank lever on the toilet, faucet handles, buttons on the coffee machine, light switches, thermostat, and the alarm clock.

If you feel that it is necessary, wipe down tables and hard surfaces, too.


7. Arrange housekeeping services during your stay.

It’s best to go without any housekeeping services to minimize exposure, but I understand that having clean sheets and towels every day is one of the perks that come with staying in a hotel room. If this is what you prefer, I recommend coordinating a window of time for the housekeeper to clean your room while you’re away. This is the best way to minimize your exposure and return to a room with fresh linens and towels.

To do this, call the front desk or hotel operator and they can arrange this for you. You can also do this upon check-in, too. Remember to disinfect high touch points after returning to your room once housekeeping services were provided.

If you wish to decline any housekeeping services, be sure to utilize the “Do Not Disturb” sign.


8. Dine in your room or outdoors.

Hotel restaurants and bars are designed to be attractive. Resist the urge and order room service instead. Some hotels may have a courtyard or plaza outdoors. If the weather permits, ask room service to pack your meal in “to-go” boxes and find a nice spot to enjoy your meal outdoors.

Select hotels may have a private balcony. Enjoy a meal on your private balcony with a view of your surroundings.


9. Open your windows.

Studies have shown that transmission of COVID-19 decreases in outdoor and open air venues. Open your guestroom windows to increase the amount of fresh air circulating in your room.

If you’ve decided to try the hotel restaurant or bar, opt for establishments that offer open air spaces. Look for restaurants with patio seating or al fresco bar with socially distant seating.


10. Remember your mask and physical distancing.

When moving throughout the hotel, always remember to wear your mask and keep at least 6 feet away from people.

Floor markers should be present in elevators and any general area where you’re likely to see a queue of people. Some corridors may have paths of travel labeled as “one way”. These signs are meant to increase your safety and reduce your risk, but it only works if followed. For more guidance, keep an eye out for signage and communication boards regarding COVID-19.

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